Saturday, November 13, 2010
Kevin Matthews - November 2010
Bittern seen flying late morning yesterday within the Kaimaumau wetlands,
Far North. This is an unusual time to see one flying and the concern is the
wetland vandal on the digger probably interrupted its breeding season. DOC
and the Northland Regional Council have been involved in bringing works to a
stop but that cannot undo damage done in these fragile environments. If it
weren't for vigilant members of the public the damage could've been far
worse. Northland has less than five percent of its wetlands left and they
can ill afford the unrelenting discretion by ignorant machine operators and
those they work for.
Extract from Birding -NZ-
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
05 September 2010
Bitterns are an icon of our wetlands. Few birds show such a high level of adaptation to wetlands than bitterns. In fact their plumage has evolved to allow then to merge in with reed beds, a habitat that bitterns are dependent upon for their survival. Sadly it is the bittern’s specialised habitat requirements that are now putting this species at risk in many regions in New Zealand. Only Northland and Waikato have significant bittern populations remaining. Throughout the remainder of New Zealand bitterns occur only in small and fragmented populations. In some regions such as Marlborough the birds are on the edge of regional extinction. In Canterbury, where I live the population is estimated at between 30-50 birds. The NZ population may be as low as 500 birds- perhaps a maximum of 2000. Still making the bittern rarer than the kokako!
With fragmentation many other factors now come into play with bittern conservation. For example with birds living in wetlands with more edge zones the chance of predation increases, sadly there is little data to confirm this, but the increase on the harrier population is likely to impact on bitterns as are mammalian predators such as stoats and Norwegian rats. Also bitterns are highly vulnerable to collision events such as getting hit but cars and flying into power lines. For bittern the bird’s decline may be one of death by a thousand cuts. Bitterns requite large, productive wetlands- a habitat still in decline. Sadly only about 5% of our original wetlands exist, and the few surviving wetlands are under increasing threat.
For me the experience of going to a wetland and knowing that no bitterns are left would make me feel empty. Bitterns really are that one bird that symbolises a sense of wilderness with wetlands. The reality is that bitterns are the test of our commitment to conserve biodiversity. As a species they have been left to the eleventh hour to consider in active conservation plans. Yet there is hope. We have detailed information on the habitat requirements of bitterns and with some financial backing and commitment to create suitable habitat near where the surviving populations remain this species can be saved. Its future truly does rest in our hands!
Link attached below.
thanks from me and the bitterns
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Ō Tū Wharekai wetlands – an important high country refuge for the nationally endangered Australasian Bittern.
Ō Tū Wharekai wetlands – an important high country refuge for the nationally endangered Australasian Bittern.
19 July 2010
The Ō Tū Wharekai wetlands, otherwise known as the Ashburton lakes, are one of three large scale wetland restoration projects undertaken by DOC in New Zealand (the other two being Awarua Bay and Whangamarino swamp.) Yet Ō Tū Wharekai is the only high country site. The wetlands in a large basin area between the Rangitata and Rakaia River catchments are one of the best examples of high country wetlands in the South Island, with a good representation of tussock, sedge and rare wetland plant communities. Amongst these diverse wetland communities, adjoining scenic high country lakes, the wetlands form the last stronghold (outside of the Mackenzie basin) for the Australasian bittern or Matuku in the central South Island high country. In the last six months birds have been sighted at Lakes Heron and Emma, in addition to the bird’s distinctive booming call, heard at the Maori Lakes. These lakes form an important network upon which this high country bittern population depends. The most recent sighting in July 2010 confirms that bitterns stay in these high country lakes throughout the year – even when most wetlands are frozen over in the region! Small inflowing creeks are likely to provide a foraging area for the birds.
The bittern is one of our rarer birds and is listed in the second highest threat ranking as being a nationally endangered bird. Bitterns once thrived in New Zealand but their numbers have rapidly declined since the 1950’s as the vast majority of New Zealand’s wetlands were drained. It is estimated that now only 750 birds remain in New Zealand (with most birds in the Northland and Waikato regions- where large wilderness wetlands remain). Now bitterns are scattered in very low numbers throughout the South Island. With only around 50 birds remaining in Canterbury. The Ashburton Lakes form one of three known important populations of bittern within the Canterbury Region, the other two being at Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) and in wetlands scattered throughout the Mackenzie Country. In addition a few birds are also found along smaller wetlands along Canterbury’s coast from Wainono Lagoon in the south to the Amberley wetlands in the North.
The bitterns are very much a bird of our wilderness wetlands preferring undisturbed and remote wetlands. They are large birds with a striking pointed bill, used for feeding on a wide range of prey items from small eels, fish to frogs and small birds. Yet most strikingly bitterns have brown and buff stripes on their breast to camouflage in amongst reed beds, and in particular- raupō (or bullrush) – a much favoured habitat of bitterns in the South Island. Bitterns are in the heron family and are the only group of birds having evolved to merge in with reed beds. From August until March bitterns have a distinctive booming call, similar to that of the endangered kakapo, which resonates eerily across our wilderness wetlands. Like the kakapo the bittern is sadly an endangered species and habitat enhancement and creation combined with predator trapping may be required to save this enigmatic bird.
Photograph caption- Bittern, or Matuku ( as they are known as in Maori culture) photographed at Ō Tū Wharekai wetlands in winter 2010 - in the Ashburton Lakes- one of few high country strongholds left for these birds (and now protected under the Arawai Käkäriki Wetland Restoration Program-DOC).
Key words –
Arawai Käkäriki Wetland Restoration Programme.
Ō Tū Wharekai (Ashburton lakes/Upper Rangitata river, Canterbury).
Australasian bittern - Botaurus poiciloptilus – Matuku
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Note- length of hind claw ( voice recorder is 10 cm in lenght)- so an impressive footprint. Found deep insidea raupo bed in the Lake Ellesmere region on 22 august 2010. So next time you are around any wetlands have a look for this type of print. Perhaps a useful way, at times, of monitoring the presence of bittern.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
A rare image of this nationally endangered bird in flight. taken by Peter Langlands in 2010. Photo available at full file size - suitable to poster size. A striking image of the Australasian bittern or matuku. All funds from sale of image will go into doing further research to assist with the conservation of this species.
Image supplied on disk with a gift card of the image for $10- if interested please contact me- firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
NSW Scientific Committee - preliminary determination
The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Preliminary Determination to support a proposal to list the Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus Wagler 1827 as an ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act, and as a consequence, to omit reference to the Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus Wagler 1827 from Part 1 of Schedule 2 (Vulnerable species) of the Act. Listing of Endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Fingers crossed. Keep you all posted.
A memorable day for this bitterner !!!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Bird photographed by Kevin - with a broken wing several days ago- possible hit by car. Hopefully DOC staff will be able to find this bird for treatment. It appears quite spritely despite the broken wing- sad image but there is hope. If anyone has any records of injured or killed bitterns please email to me-
for a paper I am working on at present.
Kind regards fellow bitterners.
Thank you Kevin for making image available.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Check out the following link which gives an indication of the recent decline of bittern numbers in Australia
Note- data suggest that numbers have declined since this survey was under taken, over the last two years.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Clearly a big knowledge gap is on the breeding biology of bitterns in NZ. With bittern chicks being so small and often spread out from the nest basin I wonder just what the predation impact is on bittern chicks from what appears to be an increasing harrier population. Clearly this photograph demonstrates that human predation was also a problem in the past !!! If anyone has any recent reports (last three years )of breeding bittern I am certainly keen to receive them-
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Always keen on any sightings- hope to keep the national bittern database going.
Bittern are to our wetlands what kakapo are to our forests- Imagine the time when bittern and kakapo boomed side by side- in the not too distant past.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Hopefully no bitterns got shot during the opening of the duck-shooting season over the weekend.
Sadly I received a report of a bittern shot last year by duck shooters in the Northland Region.
I am keen to spotlight locations of high importance to bittern and to increase awareness of the birds' plight.
The drought in Northland appears to have concentrated bitterns and good numbers of birds have been sighted up there in the last month or so.
Keep an eye out as bitterns can turn up anywhere at this time of year.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Bittern postcard available- The image of a bittern in flight is available as a 6x 4 print on a card with envelope- available for $3 each. Minimum order is three. Plus $1.00 postage.If interested please email me your address and I will post out. all funds go towards researching bittern conservation in NZ.Email- email@example.com
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
On Monday morning Lisa from Rolleston sighted a bittern on this road edge near Lincoln. The bird froze when sighted. The rank broom on the edge of the road perhaps was a substitute for reeds. I went out the following morning but had no luck in finding the bird. Unusual habitat for a bittern , but only 15 kilometres away from the bird's strong hold in Canterbury, on the western side of Lake Ellesmere. So keep an eye out as bitterns turn up in some unusual locations in the Autumn.
Bitterns are a key species marking out wetlands of high bio-diversity- so should be celebrated in 2010 - the international year of bio-diversity. The photo shows typical bittern habitat with a range of wetland vegetation and shallow feeding edges.
Thank you to everyone who submitted bittern records last year. DOC is now working on an analysis of the records gathered- almost 4000 in all.
The blog will now operate as an informal discussion on bitterns in NZ.
Comments can be made on the blog. If anyone has any photos or images they want on the blog please email me - firstname.lastname@example.org
Outdoor/ environmental writing and photography
B.Sc (Zoology) Diploma of Science (Aquatic Ecology)
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